Friday, November 24, 2006
Milton Friedman: The Professor and his Global influence (I)
While the relationship between knowledge ,sciences and the current wisdom is fascinating , the most of it comes out when the right man fit with the right time, to make an old paradigm to change. Keynes and Friedman´ s point of views , were quite apart from each other ,however they both fitted well with the economic history clock.
Friedman was critical of Government intervention, because it was not upon its interest to work out policies well founded on economic stability principles. By its own nature, government looks ahead for the next election, which means to satisfy preferences of voters no matter its effect on economic incentives. Therefore , Government is not more efficient than private sectors ,to allocate public resources on behalf of community .It is safer that you have control of your pocket, than to trust it on someone else according to Professor Friedman ´s reasoning .
Markets works well when they perform with the proper institutional framework. They do not need Government to replace that framework, because most of the time it will make it in the wrong way. Traditional Government intervention in the economy, means economic policies associated with inflation, corruption, special interest influence, and lately even the chance of being captured by those who are expected to serve people.. It follows that the lasting effects of Government intervention, beyond eventual some short run gains, is a long run welfare losses .-
Professor Friedman believed ,that markets flexibility and information was the sufficient condition to solve disequilibrium, whereas its Keynesian counterpart believed that it was needed a more active Government role because of rigidities which imposed heavy cost to society in terms of unemployment.
The end of the twentieth century was characterized from the economic point of view, by a clear dominance of markets orientate policies, and Governments facing the challenges of reengineer itself according to global economy requirements. It might look like a triumph to the one who fight on that direction.
A second line of supporting markets functioning, was related to institutional framework and political liberties, as a necessary condition for economic liberties to allow proper markets allocation of resources .In other words, democracy was a substantial ingredient for individual decisions .Whenever the markets orientated polices, worked out well, there was behind a strong democratic values .It was not clear the direction of the causality-effect relationship, whether political freedom preceded to economic freedom, or the other way around. When Mr Friedman visited Chile in 1975 there was an academic discussion about it to explain what it seemed a contradiction between Professor Friedman beliefs and his actions. Chile experience of markets policies implementation under the rule of an authoritarian regime, did not fitted well with conventional wisdom . But Chile was not at that time the first country to pursue so. So it was Taiwan, South Korea ,even China (1978)with its doctrine two systems one country. The interesting thing was that, market functioning had the ability of adapting itself to different conditions as long as the fundamental (Relative Prices as the guiding light for resource allocation decisions), stay in the right track. Government could also act as a facilitator for markets ,and not just as substitute for it. Of course this does not mean that democracy is substitutable ,but what markets needs can also be granted by government if it wants to.-